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Grosse Ile Employee Buried Alive in Cave-In Hospitalized in Critical Condition

Grosse Ile Township police and fire held a press conference Thursday afternoon about a Department of Public Works employee who became buried while attempting to fix a water main break on the island.

OUTSIDE DETROIT, MI -- A Grosse Ile Township employee is in critical condition after spending nearly 14 minutes buried underground while attempting to fix a water main break on the island Thursday morning.

The 56-year-old Department of Public Works employee and lifelong Grosse Ile resident became buried after the walls of a 12-foot deep hole dug to fix the water main collapsed on top of him.

The man was not breathing and did not have a pulse when he was pulled from the hole near Meridian Road, according to Grosse Ile Fire Chief Duncan Murdock. He was revived by Grosse Ile and Trenton emergency personnel at the scene and airlifted by helicopter to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Grosse Ile Township Police Chief Joseph Porcerelli and Murdock held a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the man's condition.

Two DPW employees who are also trained volunteer firefighters were at the site at the time of the collapse. The two men retrieved the man from the hole by digging through mud, water and clay with their bare hands.

While there were at least four other township employees at the site to fix the water main break, there was only one man in the hole at the time of the collapse.

A machine used to dig the hole could not be used to rescue the man because of the danger that it might injure the buried man, according to Murdock.

Porcerelli said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Downriver Accident Reconstruction Team (DART) have been notified and an investigation into the collapse has begun.

Some members of the man's family have been notified of the incident.

No one else was injured in the collapse.

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Nate Stemen January 26, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Some users' comments were deleted for violating the Patch Terms of Use. http://trenton-grosseile.patch.com/terms -- NS
cscharlt January 26, 2013 at 04:45 PM
thanks for this nate
cscharlt January 26, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Saddening story, hopefully this was a only a freak accident that couldn't have been prevented. I wish a speedy and full recovery for this man working so hard in such a cold spell in MI to improve our community. Also wanted to give my respects to the two amazing individuals that were the volunteer firefighters that dug him out with their bare hands.
michelle January 28, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Any updates? I really hope that they can save this man and learn from their mistakes. What a tough job, especially in this weather and to have this happen on top of it all. Prayers to the whole family. I hope he makes a full recovery.
Jeff knapp January 28, 2013 at 05:28 PM
All of us from Lincoln Park DPS WATER AND SEWER. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

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